Sarah Morin - Youth Manager
So it’s the time of year I love and dread the most in my job: picking new youth volunteers. As Youth Experience Manager, aka the Kid Wrangler, I am in charge of 100 volunteers
, ages 10-18. (Secret: I have the best job at Conner Prairie. Kids are funnier than adults. Adults never ask you how long it takes to microwave their socks.)
So the deadline has passed, and now I’m sitting with over 70 applications in my lap, trying to decide between great kids and even better kids. I’ve come up with a list of The Top 10 Things I Love About the Youth Volunteer Application Process:
1. Infectious enthusiasm.
2. 10-year-old, 4’8” applicants who tell me, “I’ve wanted to work at Conner Prairie ever since I was little.”
3. Kids who come to their interview in business suits. Spiffy!
4. We adults know what interviewers want to hear. Kids by and large tell it like it is. “What would your teachers tell us about you?” They might say very honestly, “That I can’t sit still and I get in trouble for talking too much in class.” If adults gave brutally honest interview answers like this, wouldn’t the business world save a lot of time?
5. Creativity. For example, this year I asked the applicants to write an essay about starting a restaurant. Their restaurants included everything from time travel to dog waiters. The menus ranged from French dishes in curlicue fonts to theme foods with bad puns (Lord of the Onion Rings).
6. Meeting kids who really want to help others.
7. Kids who haven’t figured out how to shake hands yet. “Hmm, is it my left hand or right hand, and how tightly do I squeeze, and do I stand or sit?” Is this a lost art? Or maybe kids are just stunned that I’m more interested in them than their parents, so I offer my hand to the kid first. After all, I’m not hiring their parents.
8. Walking kids to and from the interview room. It’s amazing how a kid who gets nervous and clams up sitting across the table from us will suddenly turn into a chatterbug as soon as the interview’s over and the pressure is lifted.
9. Finding out what kids are into these days. Literature is not dead – kids still read books. Books referred to most over my 9 years of interviewing: Little House on the Prairie and Harry Potter.
10. Diamond-hunting. You hire an adult for the qualities they already possess. You hire a kid for both the talents they have and their potential.Kids are like ore – I love finding the glint of precious stone in each of them, and wondering how a few years of refining at Conner Prairie will reveal the gem within.
And my least favorite part of the application process…. Picking between them!